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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 14 December 2012
The subtitle says it all really. Bordering if not actually attaining obsession, David Walsh, with others duly credited, has made it his goal over the past decade and more to expose Lance Armstrong and other cyclists as the dopers they have subsequently turned out to be. With the recent revelations now out in the open it would be easy for Walsh to adopt an "I told you so" attitude which to be fair I don't think he does in this book. Sure there is a great sense of vindication throughout but the story is told in a refreshingly candid way, personal foibles are reported there are lots of conversations described, good humour abounds, even amongst the frustration and anger, and all in all it is a very engaging read. It's not all about the bike either (sorry couldn't resist) It would appear that Irish swimmer Michele Smith amongst others being exposed as a drugs cheat played a large part in driving Walsh to expose other dopers and he has had a mixed reception amongst the cycling community in Ireland because of his work. There are numerous auto-biographical details as well, from personal tragedies to how his investigations affected his family and friends. This aspect does add a good dose of reality away from the peleton and makes the book more personal rather than an outright piece of journalism. One caveat I have to report is that I haven't actually read "From Lance to Landis" so can't say if there is a lot of repetition or not, there are some bits of journalism which are familiar to me though but it is not a straight regurgitation of these. Even so this is a fine piece of work, an incredible story excellently told.
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on 19 January 2013
Having been reading cycling books for some years, I have already read David Walsh's book "From Lance to Landis" and it was this that really made me doubt that Lance had ridden clean.
With the recent revelations and Tyler Hamilton's book - which I consider to be a GREAT read - I was expecting the new book by David Walsh to be something bigger and better than I had read by him before
Unfortunately having just re-read his other book recently I was almost questioning as to whether I had accidentally picked it up again instead of "7 Deadly Sins". It goes over almost all of the points in the other book in about the same sort of length and then when I was getting near the end of the book wondering what the difference was, I found out. There are a few brief notes about recent disclosures, work by the USADA and that's about it.
If you haven't read "From Lance to Landis" save your money and buy this one
It IS well written, it gives a GREAT insight into the people who were affected by Lance throughout his career and I think that anyone interested in that era of cycling will love it
The only reason I marked it down was that so much of it was a rehash - admittedly with a few bits added - of his previous book I felt a bit cheated.
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on 15 August 2016
Many of my friends would be surprised to see me reading this book - perhaps not knowing that my personal fascination with the Tour de France specifically, and cycling more generally is something that goes back nearly 30 years. I was certainly one of the 'dupes' who wanted to believe in the magic, to accept the fairy tale happy endings of the man who beat cancer and then beat the Tour, not once but seven times. I bought the lies and the claims that everybody was just out to get Armstrong, that the French just hated a bloody Yank coming over and taking their race by storm. I was disgusted when the truth eventually came out and keen to know the depths to which this lying, cheating bully and his friends in high (and low) places would go to maintain the cover up of wide-spread doping in cycling.

Knowing the outcome, the 'whodunnit' if you like, doesn't always spoil a good mystery story and it certainly doesn't lessen the power of David Walsh's very personal account of his crusade to expose the lies and cheating of Lance Armstrong. Walsh could so easily have produced a volume of self-praising 'I told you so' writing, but he doesn't. Instead he pays homage to the good guys and girls who got trampled underfoot, the peleton riders whose careers were destroyed by bully-boy Armstrong and his heavies, the team members Armstrong stomped across in pursuit of his own personal distorted ambition and the broken bodies and ruined health of those around him.

Perhaps it's hard to believe but this really is the kind of book you can't put down as the pace and the evidence starts to build. As Armstrong hides behind his charity work as a so-called 'Cancer Jesus', as if thinking a bit of fund raising will somehow exempt him from playing by the rest of societies 'rules', the reader can't help but think that in the case of Lance Armstrong, the truth really can be stranger than fiction.
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on 3 March 2016
For anyone interested in corruption at the highest and most sophisticated level in sport, particularly from the late 1980s to 2012, this is a book worth reading. The author and journalist, David Walsh, in his pursuit of Lance Armstrong for more than a decade, details his own frustrations in trying to prove that Lance Armstrong, seven times winner of professional cycling's most prestigious event, the Tour de France, had cheated throughout, by using performance-enhancing drugs. Whilst many other journalists were caught up with the romance of the sport, and especially with the apparent "heroism" of a former professional rider (Armstrong) who had come back to professional cycling after overcoming testicular cancer, to win no fewer than seven Tours de France, Walsh found such a comeback incredulous, and rightly so. With the help of key eyewitnesses some of whom Armstrong had bullied, and with the confessions of other professional cyclists who, with Armstrong had been steeped in a culture of doping within the sport, the evidence against Armstrong became overwhelming. He was stripped of his seven Tour de France victory titles. He finally confessed to his lies and deceit in a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey. Even in that interview he declined to admit that he had lied before key witnesses in a hospital ward that he had been taking performance-enhancing drugs.
If there was one thing that put this reviewer off the book, it was the more than occasional use of expletives, which I felt was unnecessary. Walsh exposes Armstrong as foul-mouthed, and the author himself is not averse to using expletive language. No doubt some would argue this is all part of "telling it as it was." That may be so, but asterisk marks would be quite sufficient and less offensive to readers who regard not only doping as sin but also swearing. In addition, following Welsh's line of thought was not always easy, and I found myself having to re-read in parts. The book could have been written in a clearer style. This aside, The Program: Seven Deadly Sins - My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong does make interesting reading and the overall message of the book is clear. The book would have special appeal to sports people in general, and especially to those involved in or interested in professional cycling. To any aspiring young person interested in sport the book reveals a very dark side to it, which is true not just of professional cycling, but many other sports too.
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I had high hopes of this book, as David Walsh is a tough and uncompromising journalist who has pursued Lance Armstrong for many years, making him almost on his own amongst cycling experts. He is clearly a great investigative writer to have sniffed out the story to begin with, and his sense of indignance at seeing sport ruined by illegal drugtaking will be shared by many of us.

However, I felt the book has been written very hastily. The chronology jumps around all over the place for one thing, as if it hadn't been read through enough before being hurried to publication. Main characters are introduced without explanation; the first major explanation of how EPO works is on page 120. Surely there should be a part at the beginning of the book where he explains the various kinds of doping and how they work? I know for many of us fans they are familiar, but surely this book will have some general readers too who have to spend a lot of unnecessary time on Wikipedia as a result.

Walsh also jumps to quick conclusions about drugtakers, slightly lumping them all in together as to why they dope, though the accounts of former reformed drug-users in sport (contrast Racing Through the Dark: The Fall and Rise of David Millar,The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs, and Riis) would suggest that isn't the case, and that there are plenty of different ways to end up taking performance-enhancers.

And these are just some of the possible complaints! One of the biggest gripes is that extraordinary events are whisked through, or even dealt with in footnotes, such as the tragic death of Marco Pantani from drug effects. There end up being many places where the drama of a situation, an event, a revelation, is totally lost. I began to wish Walsh (who is always quick to give credit to good ghostwriters, and who has acted as one himself) had had a ghostwriter! The balance of it didn't feel like a `finished' book, but of course it `had' to be hurried out for Christmas / post-UCI/WADA decisions.

What is fantastic, and I would have liked more on, is the general corruption that surrounds doping sport. There is an amazing story about Francesco Conconi being asked to investigate EPO to try to devise a test for it, and essentially doping athletes using EPO PAID FOR by the IOC. Amazing! I want more of this!

And Walsh is also incredibly funny at times, with a very very dark dry sense of humour that I enjoyed. Linford Christie "reached out to me", writes Walsh, walking into a positive drugs test just months before he'd have retired.

All in all, an often gripping and compelling read, but could have been SO MUCH better with more structure and editing and time. I'd actually give it 3.5 I have so many issues with it, but round it up to 4.
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on 28 August 2014
Perhaps more than any other journalist David Walsh pursued the investigation to uncover evidence that Lance Armstrong was cheating by taking illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
Before his cancer treatment Armstrong had competed in the Tour de France four times, finishing 36th once and withdrawing the other three times. When he came back from his treatment to lead it in 1999 – in the first of an unparalleled seven successive wins of the Tour - supposedly drug-free Walsh regarded this as “all about as logical as the Tour being led by a lobster on a bike. A lobster complete with helmet and a moving backstory about a last-minute escape from a pot of boiling water.”
Such a view wasn’t entirely popular, especially as it was directed as a man whose story was an inspiration to millions. One letter writer to Walsh’s newspaper wrote that “Sometimes people get a cancer of the spirit. And maybe that says a lot about them.” The writer was half-right. There was a cancer of the spirit but not in the spirits of those who queried the integrity of the sport and of many of its stars but a cancer in the spirit of those who cheated and – to my mind – more so in the ranks of the officials and administrators who facilitated them. (When Armstrong failed a test in ’99 he was allowed to present a back-dated doctor’s cert to allow the pretence that he wasn’t taking a banned substance but rather had been using an approved ointment).
In journalistic style Walsh recounts “the case for the prosecution” as it were and the story of those brave people who stuck their heads above the parapet to tell the truth.
Some reviews have criticized Walsh for obsessing with Armstrong rather than tackling the wider topic of doping in cycling. I think this is unfair. One person or a small group of people can only do so much and if you can expose the one cyclist whose name was known to the average non-cycling fan this is far more effective in highlighting the problem than exposing a larger number of people whose names mean nothing to the average person in the street.
Another criticism is that the latter part of the book has a different feel to what went before and may have been rushed to cash in on the story. I think there is some truth in this criticism but, if anyone was entitled to cash in, whom more so than David Walsh?
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on 1 March 2013
I have avoided reading David Walsh's book until now with the misguided and faint hope that maybe, just maybe, LA was clean and the fairy tale was true.

Nope. Fabulous journalism. DW is one amongst a few, and a credit to his profession.

His family ought to be incredibly proud of him. Thank you for not giving up.
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on 20 December 2012
This is the one you should buy for your apologist friends who think what Lance Armstrong did was no different to anybody else in the peloton. It details the organisation, the evasion, the harassment and character assassination of those who spoke out and much more.

It would have been jaw-dropping stuff but for the fact that the USADA reasoned decision had already detailed many of the revelations in this book. For me its most useful purpose is to vindicate those supposedly bitter ex-employees or failed ex-racers. Describing the ways their livelihoods were put at threat or their sporting ambitions curtailed either directly or indirectly by the miracle survivor you realise their testimony was equally valid.
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on 11 July 2015
If you read one book about the Tour de France , this has to be The one. This is a book is less about doping in sport but more about one mans unwavering belief and 13 year crusade to out one of the greatest cheats and unsavoury human beings one could encounter.
Walsh and all those who came forward and gave evidence suffered so much at the hands of Armstrong and the establishment that their lives were irrevocably damaged by Armstrongs "Cancer of the Spirit". Armstrong with the aid of UCI controlled the narrative to such an extent that he could have got away with it if he had not come back to fuel his ego again in 2009-2010.
Walsh has an entertaining style which is very clear and punchy in the early part of the book but wavers slightly due his undoubted mental fatigue at the denouement as the various threads of testimony and evidence criss cross to finally snare Armstrong.
Walsh epitomizes the idiom "Stand up and be counted" and his spirit should be an example to us all in a world where so much is taken at face value and we are to lazy to scratch beneath the surface
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on 28 June 2013
A great story which just seemed to have been not very well written. Do people not proof read these days? Also a little bit disorganised for the non cycling reader jumping backwards and forwards all the time. All in all though a mesmerising book and couldn't put it down.
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